Damsa in a dress: tailoring hope

Afghanistan

‘I’ve got nothing to wear!’ I imagine that phrase has been uttered around the world, in lots of different languages, by lots of women (and men… and definitely by my children). For many of us, maybe what we really mean is ‘I just don’t like the things I have.’ For Damsa, a young woman in Afghanistan, ‘nothing to wear’ was closer to the truth.

In the quiet village where Damsa* lives, a typical day sees men and women working side by side in the fields, planting, tending or harvesting their wheat.

As with many small villages in the remote central highlands of Afghanistan, families farm their land to grow food. For income to pay for other necessities, selling livestock is the usual answer.

There are no jobs to apply for to earn more money – and no shops in which to spend it.

This means that finding basic necessities, like clothing, or the extra income required to buy them, can be very difficult.

Coming apart at the seams
With no real alternatives, when Damsa needed clothes she had to get together whatever money she could, find a way to get fabric and take it to the local tailor to be made into something suitable for her to wear.

Choice was not a luxury Damsa had.

‘We had a lot of problems having clothing made,’ Damsa says. ‘I bought new fabric and brought it to the tailor. A few days later, I went back, and she asked me to pay her, but I had no money. When I was able to collect enough money I paid her, but when I got home I realised that my new clothing was very tight and short.’

It had been difficult enough to get the money and the fabric, but even that had been wasted. There was no way the clothing would be appropriate for Damsa to wear. She tucked it away. ‘I still haven’t worn it at all,’ she laments, ‘and it’s just sitting in a box’. In her remote village, without a ‘store policy’ to protect her consumer rights and offer her a refund – things many of us might take for granted – Damsa’s money was lost.

But she still needed clothes to wear. Damsa needed a new solution.

A stitch in time
When Tearfund’s local partner offered a tailoring course in Damsa’s village, she jumped at the chance, eager to learn to sew for herself. She could gain a new skill, have a way to solve her own difficult situation – and be a part of the solution for those around her.

‘Now I can make new clothes for myself and my family,’ Damsa says. ‘I was even able to make some clothes for others and earned some money from it!’

Learning to sew has given Damsa not only the ability to clothe herself, but the option to make a living too. That’s real power dressing!

PLEASE PRAY

  • It has been over four months since the September presidential election in Afghanistan and the result has yet to be declared. Please pray for an outcome that will be accepted by the population and for the new leadership to foster unity across the country.
  • Peace talks between the US and Taliban leaders continue to stall. Please pray for a mutual commitment to peace.
  • Please pray for the safety and protection of Tearfund's partners in Afghanistan, so that they can continue to do the kind of work that empowers people like Damsa.

Find out how you can help make a World of Difference in the lives of people like Damsa.

*Name has been changed to protect identity

Tarryn Pegna